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April 01, 2013
EPA to withdraw C&D numeric limitations for turbidity
By Amanda Czepiel, JD, Senior Managing Editor

After extensive litigation and a 2-year stay, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has formally proposed to revise the effluent guidelines and standards for the Construction and Development (C&D) point source category. The proposed rulemaking would withdraw the numeric turbidity discharge standards from the federal regulations.

The current regulations, which have been stayed since November 2010, established a numeric limitation and monitoring requirements on the allowable level of turbidity in discharges from certain construction sites. The technology basis for this final limitation was passive treatment control, including polymer-aided settling to reduce the turbidity discharges. After the rule was promulgated, potential deficiencies with the dataset that the EPA used to support its decision to adopt the limitation were identified, and the EPA filed an unopposed motion to hold off litigation that sought to vacate the numeric limitation in order to provide time to reconsider the rule and solicit information regarding the numeric limitation’s applicability.

In the past 2 years, the EPA has met with petitioners and stakeholders to reach an agreement to resolve the litigation and take final steps regarding the numeric limitation. Under the settlement agreement, the EPA agreed to propose for public comment amendments to the C&D rule by April 15, 2013, that make certain changes to the nonnumeric portions of the rule and withdraw the numeric limitation, and by February 28, 2014, to take final action on the proposed rule.

In addition to withdrawing the numeric turbidity limitation, the proposed rulemaking also includes the addition of a definition of “infeasible” and revisions to the effluent limitations reflecting the best practicable control technology currently available, effluent limitations reflecting the best available technology economically achievable, effluent limitations reflecting the best conventional pollutant control technology, and the New Source Performance Standards reflecting the best available demonstrated control technology.

Comments on the proposed revisions must be received on or before May 31, 2013.

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